It's not easy to convince your client to buy your services. You've answered every question, jumped every hurdle and the deal is in sight.
And then your client says, "Let me think about it."
Is there anything more frustrating?
How do you get your client to move forward when the deal stalls?
What to do when a sales deal stalls?
A listener of the podcast, Ben Patton asked how to get a client to move forward with your proposal when it stalls?
For me, sales is most successful when you follow a process. There are milestones in the buyer journey that we need to check off. When we miss them, it causes deals to lose steam.
To get that momentum back, I go over my process and see what I've missed.
Here's what the sales process looks like from a 30,000 foot view:
Selling begins with a buyer who has a problem (even if they don't know it yet). At some point they meet a seller who believes they have the solution.
Through a series of conversations, each looks at the problem and how to solve it. Along the way, both make compromises until those discussions reach a conclusion:
- The buyer can solve the problem on their own.
- The buyer will get help from a different supplier (i.e. not you) to solve the problem.
- The buyer chooses you to solve the problem with or for them.
If you want to win the deal, you need to prepare for each step of the sales process.
Let me share those steps with you now.
(P.S. you can submit your own question for me to answer. Details at the end of this page)
Sales process checklist
The best way to keep a deal moving is to follow a sales process. Whenever a client loses interest in my proposals I revisit this checklist.
I usually find I've missed some steps and by closing the gaps in the process, I almost always get deals back on track.
- Understood the client's needs and business challenges.
- Identified the problem the client wants solved.
- Developed relevant insights.
- Confirmed the client's interest. Tip: use the Thermometer Technique (see below). Ask your client where are you on a scale of 0 to 10 - zero = no interest, 10 = ready to buy).
- Understood client’s expectations on next steps and timelines.
- Understood buying and decision making process and criteria.
- Connected with key stakeholders and decision makers.
- Anticipated and resolved potential obstacles.
- Explored opportunities and potential solutions and how they achieve client's business outcomes.
- Evaluated competitors and how you rank and have talk tracks for gaps.
- Differentiated my value proposition.
- Explored risks the client’s concerned about and established contingencies.
- Shared success stories and case studies that show we can deliver promised results.
- Agreed on the metrics the client will use to evaluate the success of our solution.
- Demonstrated the solution justify the cost.
- Presented a customised proposal and sought feedback from my client.
- Refined the solution scope based on client feedback where required.
- Responded to open issues.
- Planned my negotiation strategy:
- Know who I'll negotiate with
- Know my objectives (best case) and bottom line (worst case).
- Know the answers to:
- What will it cost me?
- What is it worth to my client?
- What do I want in return?
- Created a follow up plan to maintain contact and influence. See episode The Best Way to Follow Up With Clients (Without Being a Pest).
Establish the next commitment
Clients aren’t always ready to buy. But don’t leave them to their own devices. Here are some great ways to pivot the conversation to your next commitment so that you don’t lose momentum:
- When should we talk again?
- What are our next steps?
- What do you want me to do next?
- When do you want me to follow up?
- When are we connecting next?
- I can call you on Wednesday or Friday. Which do you like?
- How much time do you need?
- I'd like to do this work with you, so when can we wrap this up?
- It's important to me to help you. When do you want me to reach out again?
The Thermometer Technique
Excerpt from the book You Can’t Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar
Before you proceed with any more pain, however, use the Thermometer technique, which helps you measure the degree to which your prospect has been sold. Here’s how it works:
“John, we’ve covered a lot of ground so far, and there’s still more to show you, but on a 0-to-10 scale, 0 meaning you have no interest in my service and 10 meaning you have already decided to buy my service, where are you?”
If he says he’s a 10, there is no need to finish your presentation. Pains 4 and 5 are irrelevant. The deal is done!
If the prospect is less than a 6, you’ve got a problem. In our present scenario, John already has said “yes” to you three times. He’s agreed with you 100 percent three times. So why is he less than a 6? Did you push too fast? Did you assume he was 100 percent when he wasn’t? To find out what went wrong, ask him!
“John, based on what you’ve told me so far, I don’t understand why you say you’re a 4. Can you help me understand that?”
Whatever John says will reveal deeper pain, new pain, or pain that your Fulfillment step hasn’t alleviated. Be patient. Listen. And begin the process again.
Most of the time, at this stage of Fulfillment, your prospect will be higher than 6. In that event, you say:
“John, what do you need to see to get to 10?”
And then, whatever he has to see is what you show him—nothing more and nothing less. After you’ve shown him what he’s asked for, check his temperature again:
“John, on that 0-to-10 scale, where are you now?”
You can bet he’ll be moving upward, and eventually he’ll arrive at a 10. Now, this is important. When your prospect arrives at 10, don’t use a worn-out traditional close like “Want me to write it up?” Instead, simply ask this question:
“What would you like me to do now?”
See what you just did? You placed the pressure where it belongs—on the prospect. Let the prospect tell you what to do. Let the prospect close the sale. That way, the prospect remains in control, and the prospect can never accuse you of forcing the sale.
Now that’s exciting, don’t you agree?
Favourite podcast: How to Succeed
The How to Succeed Podcast, from Sandler Training teaches the success principles and interpersonal communication skills needed to get to the top and stay there. Each episode features an interview with a special guest about how to succeed at sales, leadership or personal and professional success
This episode on doing pre-mortems is all about how to plan for the worst case scenario before it happens. In the context of a deal, you bring your team together (product, sales, marketing etc) for a collaborative session and brainstorm how your going to save the deal.
Just for fun
Music really helps me to eliminate distractions. Today for example, they are digging up the road right outside my window. The same spot they dug up only a few weeks ago. They claim to be installing high speed broadband cables so I can't be mad.
But the only way for me to drown out the noise is to listen to some lo-fi beats. If music helps you get your productive groove on, check out Lofi Cafe. The have over 12 channels of continuous lo-fi, chill hop tunes ad-free!
What about you? Do you prefer the music on or off when you work?
Quote of the week
"One positive step can put an end to negative momentum. Now is when you can take it." ― Ralph Marston
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